Via: MIT Technology Review:
People are arguing about whether genetically modified foods should carry labels. But the next generation of GMOs might not only be unlabeled—they might be unregulated.
Over at Scientific American you can read a 6,000-word story about how one such plant, a GM mushroom, was created. The short version is that a plant scientist named Yinong Yang used the gene-editing technique called CRISPR to snip out a few DNA letters in the genome of “Agaricus bisporus, the most popular dinner-table mushroom in the Western world.”
The result: he turned off an enzyme that turns mushrooms brown.
But Yang’s mushroom doesn’t have any bacterial DNA in its genome. He didn’t add any DNA at all, he told the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Instead, he just used gene-editing to blow a few teeny little holes in one gene and shut it off.
As a result, the USDA’s APHIS division told Yang his GMO plant isn’t going to be regulated because it sidesteps the regulation:
APHIS has concluded that your CRISPR/Cas9-edited white button mushrooms as described in your letter do not contain any introduced genetic material. APHIS has no reason to believe that CRISPR/Cas9-edited white button mushrooms are plant pests.
It’s not the first product to get cleared in this way. Last summer we wrote about a potato with a similar modification, also to stop browning, and there have been a handful of others.
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